Posts Tagged ‘Evangelicals’

Thoughts And Prayers…

May 27, 2018

Memorial Day, when we remember. Memory is often conflated with history, the two being not the same. But memory always feels historical while history none too often relies on memory to jar open the doors of the past. Memorialized this week were the victims of the again repeated school student shootings, in Santa Fe Texas. Writing for the Washington Post Tim Craig and Brittney Martin covered some of this with Praying the pain away: Christianity’s presence at Santa Fe High grows after shooting (5-26-18). Same day the NY Times ran an article on When Anti-Trump Evangelicals confront their brethren. Other news outlets have been tracking the recurring ritual of memory, history and “coping” that repetitively follows these killings, almost as if scripted. In 2016 nationally recognized Evangelical minister Rob Schenck (who had previously come to the defense of Roy Moore’s 10 Commandments monument) and Lucy Bath (mother of senseless and racist gun violence victim Jordan Davis) embarked on a soul searching encounter of the relationship of gun ownership and Evangelical faith in a documentary titled The Armor of Light. Americans seem almost obsessed in wrestling with “the gun issue” while eliding questions of memory, feeling and history. “Memory is often conflated with history, the two being not the same.” Part of American History that is never memorialized and hardly ever remembered would be anarchy and fascism. The former is quickly mouthed with the travesty of Sacco and Vanzetti. The latter, if mentioned at all, with the likes of Charles Lindberg, Henry Ford, the KKK and a host of other Americans from the first half of the 20thcentury. Anarchy has loose and vague affiliations with some philosophical/theoretical roots (Wiki gives Proudhon, Analysis suggests Thoreau). But what are the philosophical/theoretical roots of fascism? The knee jerk response is “Oh, Nietzsche and Wagner’s operas” in regard to the Nazi contemporaries of Lindberg and Ford. Little energetic inquiry is made as to the origins of thinking associated with myth, fiction, duplicity, violence and the incessant manufacture of enemies. The violence of Santa Fe materialized a specific manifestation covered by the Craig and Martin report: “Communal displays of faith have defined this district’s response to the shooting that left eight students and two teachers dead inside Santa Fe High on May 18. While some other schools affected by shootings have turned to politics — whether calling for armed teachers or demanding gun-control measures — Santa Fe’s concerns have been less about guns than God.” “Danielle Mason, 35, also has memories from her years as a student at Santa Fe High. There was prayer at lunch, prayer at graduation. Around Easter, churches set up tables inside the school and gave out Bibles near the building entrance, she said. Though she was raised Southern Baptist, Mason and her parents were uncomfortable with the ubiquitous presence of Christianity in the school. When Mason chose not to take one of the Bibles that a group was handing out at the school, students started treating her like an outcast and called her a Satanist, she said. “The town, from what I know from when I lived there, would rather have Bible study and prayer, then arts and music,” Mason told The Post in a Twitter direct message. Mason left Santa Fe in 2003 but still has relatives there. She said she’s been told the town’s views on religion haven’t changed: “A prayer and god will stop gun violence,” she said.” “On Sunday night, Arcadia First Baptist Church hosted the town’s annual baccalaureate service for Santa Fe High’s graduating seniors. About 100 graduates attended, as did the schools superintendent, who was recognized from the dais. Jack Roady, Galveston County’s district attorney, spoke to the students from the pulpit. His office is prosecuting Pagourtzis. “You are entering into a war zone, and it’s a spiritual war zone,” Roady, a Republican, told students. “And you are entering into an area where you will have to deal with — and you are already dealing with — the full effects of sin in our world. “For those of you who know him, truly know him — Christ — this time is for you,” Roady continued. “Because, believers, we shouldn’t be surprised about what we’re seeing.”” In a recent book (The Road to Unfreedom: Russia Europe America, 2018) Yale historian Timothy Snyder considers the politics and motivation of Vladimir Putin and Russia, and its spread westward. He spends considerable attention on Putin’s revered (and frequently iterated) Russian philosopher of fascism, Ivan Ilyin (Putin even going so far as likening himself to Ilyin’s aspired strong man). From page 25: “The men who redeemed God’s flawed world had to ignore what God said about love. Jesus instructed his disciples that, after loving God, the most important law was to love one’s neighbor… For Ilyin there were no neighbors. Individuality is corrupt and transient, and the only meaningful connection is the lost divine totality. So long as the world is fractured, loving God means a constant struggle “against the enemies of divine order on earth.” To do anything but to join this was to enact evil: “He who opposes the chivalrous struggle against the devil is himself the devil.” Faith meant war: “May your prayer be a sword and your sword be a prayer!”” Analysis finds a contemporary American update would read “May your prayer be a gun and your gun be a prayer!” Thoughts and prayers…

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You Will Not Replace Us

October 15, 2017

Americans and their relationship with God (religion) is kinda like that between parents and teenagers. Americans, qua Americans only on account of their Constitution, know better than others that it was drawn up with emphasis on keeping the two separate, one out of the other. Teenagers, told no by their parents, will eventually act out. Well, ya gotta do it anyway. This past week a major event of this sort took place that literally flew under the media radar in terms of emphasis. Seems whether Ivana is the first lady or Rex Tillerson called his boss a “moron” was more significant than the fact of who spoke to the Values Voter Summit for the third time, this time as apprentice president, and what was said. In 2015 he spoke as a presidential wannabe. 2016 found him speaking as a candidate for president. 2017 found a deliverance speech. The Values Voter Summit is put on directly by the Family Research Council which in turn was spawned by James Dobson, Focus On The Family. “Co-sponsors of the event included other Christian political action groups, such as AFA Action (part of the American Family Association), the Heritage Foundation, Liberty University, Liberty Counsel and Gary Bauer’s organization American Values.” (according to Wiki). Wiki describes the Family Research Council: “FRC promotes what it considers traditional family values, by advocating and lobbying for socially conservative policies. It opposes and lobbies against equal rights for LGBT people (such as same-sex marriage, same-sex civil unions, and LGBT adoption), abortion, divorce, embryonic stem-cell research and pornography.” Controversy surrounds not only the apprentice president when it comes to the terms of the “traditional family values” of the FRC as well as the organization itself being classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. And yet the apprentice president has deigned to grace the Summit now three times, with little fanfare on his latest appearance. Analysis thought it would be more than pertinent to consider the text of the 2016 speech with that of 2017 (transcripts from Politico and the White House Press Secretary). In both speeches the bible is quoted once, at the start of 2017 and at the end of 2016 (a twist of the theater’s admonition to always leave ‘em laughing – in this case praying!). “Amazing, amazing group. One of the greatest privileges of my journey has been the time I’ve spent with the evangelical community.” at the start of 2016, “It’s great to be back here with so many friends at the 2017 Values Voter Summit, and we know what that means. We know what that means. America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened and sustained by the power of prayer.” Overall, 2016 comes across as a stump speech with the primary focus on political agenda, if you only vote for me. This agenda is the one currently being executed, though couched in an ersatz religious perspective for the consuming audience. Many of that time’s news headlines were from this conference (“What have you got to lose?”, being able to say “radical Islamic terrorism,” and the statistically flawed math in terms of job numbers and budget amounts) and some were never picked up on (“or one of our great generals that we have today – General Flynn, who’s here someplace I love General Flynn”). A hefty portion was Hillary bashing with Obama thrashing given equal time. Tribute was paid to Phyllis Schlafly’s early endorsement. “We are all equal, and we all come from the same Creator. If we remember that simple fact, then our future is truly limitless. There is nothing we as Americans can’t do.” and “Our nation today is divided. Nobody likes to say it, but we’re living in a very, very divided nation. It will be our faith in God and his teachings, in each other, that will lead us back to unity.” are the closest things to actual articles of “religious” faith put forward by the then candidate speaker. 2017 the apprentice president gives a deliverance speech, again following the political agenda promised a year earlier but this time self-congratulating what is (in his estimation) their accomplishment. Little of this captured the mainstream media coverage’s imagination (“president of the Virgin Islands,” “We’re saying “Merry Christmas” again.”). Except, this time the speech is slathered with religiosity, referencing the founding fathers (like Washington and Franklin) and being filled with articles of faith and their bearing on the upcoming political challenges. Unlike the media, Analysis finds these relevant and pertinent. “And they [hard working Americans] make sure that the future of their children has God involved in it.  So important to them.” “As long as we have pride in our country, confidence in our future, and faith in our God, then America will prevail.” “We know that it’s the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities. And above all else, we know this: In America, we don’t worship government — we worship God. Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face.” “We will defend our faith and protect our traditions.” “We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.” Analysis finds a Reader’s Digest condensed version would sound a lot like “You will not replace us.”

Aldi Evangelicals

July 5, 2016

Evangelize 1. to preach the Christian gospel to 2. to convert to Christianity 3. to preach the gospel; act as an evangelist
Those church goers not heading home after Sunday services usually end up at a restaurant or grocery store. The Aldi shopper’s tee shirt identified her as one of the latter. It read: “I am protected by the good Lord and a gun.” Her evangelizing may be a badge of honor to her. Then again, the tee shirt slogan could just be considered cool, provocative. A lot of tee shirts are sold because, like bumper stickers, they say what the wearer wants others to read (the wearer is the billboard promoting the message). Either way, for evangelicals evangelizing is an active verb. Such evangelizing was what got W elected and re-elected. The evangelical electoral clout appears to have subsided with B Rock’s two subsequent victories. Recently Focus on the Family’s James Dobson rather tepidly embraced the Trump campaign. Analysis finds this to be in line with current polling statistics swirling around the two presidential candidates. Dobson probably proclaimed Donnie as born again because it was less distasteful than being with her. An Independent Lens documentary, Armor of Light, shows national evangelical leader Rev. Rob Schenck wrestling with the Christian gospel, political conservatism, and his fellow evangelicals’ embrace of guns and the 2nd amendment. It is the conjunction “and” in the tee shirt slogan that tripped him up, instigating the documentary. The dictionary gives several uses and meanings for “and”. The initial definitions cover connectivity related uses, such as “with”, “as well as”, “in addition to” or “added to”, “then”, “also, at the same time”. The meanings expand after that as the usage changes from one specifically concerning connectivity. These latter usages are totally inappropriate for our tee shirt evangelist. “With, as well as, in addition to” work just fine in place of “and”. “Added to” doesn’t change the meaning. “I am protected by the good Lord then a gun” is an insightful substitution (in the event the good Lord is distracted or preoccupied by more pressing concerns). Finally, “also, at the same time” appears to give the most appropriate meaning for the Aldi evangelical’s usage of “and”. This is where Analysis uncovers a slippage with the meaning of “evangelize” and its contemporary American usage. The original dictionary definition definitely implicates Christian religious belief and the gospel. Any SCOTUS style strict textual interpretation of the gospel readily renders an absence of guns, let alone 2nd amendment. Yet as Rev. Rob Schenck showed, his contemporaries evangelize the importance of “the good Lord and a gun.” Aggressive marketing, resulting in the ever growing increase in gun ownership, coupled with the continuous rise in the value of Smith & Wesson, Sturm Ruger, etc. stock may have more to do with evangelicals obsessing on the security and reliability of a gun (in the event the good Lord may be distracted or preoccupied by more pressing concerns). It is also what these evangelicals currently evangelize. To preach the gospel of the 2nd amendment, to convert infidels to the everlasting salvation of gun ownership may likewise be more about something other than protection or security. It just may be about creating and maintaining believers faithfully and zealously committed to the gospel of individual property ownership- bought, paid for, “and” yours to do with as you please because you own it.